The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Hands-on law enforcement training course returns to UI after COVID-19 hiatus

The course, “Student Practicum in Policing,” provides a hands-on approach to teaching positive policing practices.
Ben Koth
Lieutenant Travis Tyrrell shows students how to dust for fingerprints during a policing practicum course at the UCC in Iowa City on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023.

Hands-on training in law enforcement curriculum returned to the University of Iowa campus this fall after a hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A course, “Student Practicum in Policing,” offered through the UI Department of Sociology, combines curriculum with physical demonstrations and training in areas, such as violent intruder training, defensive tactics, analyzing crime scenes, and firearms instruction.

The course utilizes various police and police-affiliated entities, including the Iowa City Police Department, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Coralville Police Department, North Liberty Police Department, and the Johnson County Attorney’s Office, to help facilitate the program. The entire program is facilitated through volunteer work.

The class was conceptualized in 2017 when UI Campus Safety found success in the program Community Police Academy, which was a police academy for community members that educates attendees on different topics each week.

Alton Poole, lead instructor of the UI course and community outreach officer for Campus Safety, said the positive feedback from the Community Police Academy started the idea for how to bring this experience of learning positive policing practices in a hands-on way to students.

UI Campus Safety pitched the idea to Michaela Ruppert, associate professor of instruction of sociology and criminology, who decided to volunteer her time to create a curriculum for the program and oversee the course.

Ruppert said the program aims to show students with an interest in law enforcement the academic curriculum of policing policy while being paired with the more physical aspects of what it means to do policing. Ruppert added that the course also provides a great networking resource as many local community partners volunteer time to facilitate the course.

“It is really just about affording a resource to our students and a resource to the agencies around our campus that really do help our students,” Ruppert said.

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Kathie Pham, a former UI criminology and sociology student who took the course in 2019, said the class helped her define what she wanted from a career in the policing field.

“After taking this class, I learned that I really want to work closely with law enforcement in some capacity,” Pham said.

Pham currently works as a therapist providing trauma-informed therapy for first responders, military, and people of color for Covenant Family Solutions.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the course had to be canceled in 2020. The class returned in 2021 and followed campus COVID-19 restrictions, which required large portions of the class to be taught online and made certain in-person aspects impossible.

Poole said these restrictions were a major obstacle for the class in 2021.

The course is only offered every other year because of the resources required to orchestrate the class through the different organizations that volunteer time.

Poole said that the course is looking to expand its community partners, particularly mental health advocates, in the future. Poole said the course is always being tweaked to give the most valuable education to students. The class is expected to return again in 2025.

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About the Contributor
Jack Moore
Jack Moore, News Editor
Jack Moore is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication. He is from Cedar Rapids Iowa. Along with working at The Daily Iowan, Jack works for the University of Iowa's UI-REACH program as a Resident Assistant. UI-REACH is a program for students with learning, cognitive, and behavioral disabilities intended to provide support to these students throughout their college experience. Additionally, Jack is involved in Iowa City's live music scene as he plays bass for local Iowa City band "Two Canes."